LOS ANGELES – Every day firefighters in Los Angeles receive a report of the brush burn index indicating the fire hazard. If it is 165 or more, that is extreme.
Thursday's number is 296, the tallest ever, according to Ralph Terrazas, Los Angeles Fire Chief.
Terrazas and other Southern California officials warned residents Wednesday night that a series of fires washed away by Santa Ana's snowy winds and dangerously dry vegetation would probably worsen in the next 24 hours.
"We have a good chance of a very difficult night and a day (Thursday)," he said. Tim Chavez, a fire behavior analyst for CalFire, at a press conference at the 90,000-acre fire at Thomas Fire in Ventura County. "There is a great potential for the growth of a large amount of fire (for this fire)"
More than 100,000 acres in Southern California have been burned with little containment. The firefighters who worked too hard took a break on Wednesday when the winds calmed down a bit, but the forecast for the next three days was bad news as well as bad news.
The winds will increase with gusts of up to 64 mph. they are reduced again. The humidity will be super dry, less than 10%. The warnings of the red flag will be valid until Saturday night, 24 hours later than originally planned.
• They were asked to leave: Evacuations in some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the area near the Skirball fire affected 46,000 people, officials said. The fire occurred across the road from both the Skirball Museum and the Getty Museum, where art was preserved.
• Highway closure: The 475-acre Skirball Fire near Tony Bel The Los Angeles air area surprised morning passengers on Interstate 405. The busy freeway was closed during a 9-mile stretch for hours as the fire approached. "It was dark until I saw a giant orange ball," wrote motorist I-405 Tiffany Lynette Anderson on Instagram, where she posted an image of raging fire along the road before it closed. "I could feel the heat in my windows," said Los Angeleno Joy Newcomb, who also passed by the fire. The highway has reopened since then, but some ramps remain closed.
• Curfew promulgated: On Tuesday, the city of Ventura declared a daily curfew, starting at 10 p.m. at 5 a. m., to protect residents and avoid crimes such as looting in evacuation areas.
• Creek Fire in North Los Angeles: The second largest fire is the Creek Fire, burning more than 12,000 acres in and near the Sylmar and Tujunga neighborhoods in the north of Los Angeles since it started on Tuesday morning. Seven firefighters suffered injuries that are not considered dangerous to life.
• Suggested masks: The smoke resulting from the Thomas fire is creating a "severe impact on the quality and visibility of the air," the Ventura County fire The Department said on Twitter.
• School Closing : More than 260 public and charter schools in Los Angeles will close on Thursdays and Fridays.
• Out-of-state help: About 300 engines come from fire departments in other states, said Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby.
• Other fires: The rye fire near Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County grew to approximately 7,000 acres.
Authorities in Los Angeles ordered parts of the Bel-Air district near the fire to leave, but those are only a fraction of the evacuations that have been ordered in Southern California since Monday by the night.
Smo Ke collected even in areas that were not burning. Health officials warned people in the densely populated San Fernando Valley and other parts of North Los Angeles to limit their time outdoors.
A video posted on Instagram shows a Los Angeles County firefighters helicopter maneuvering around smoke to make a drop of water in the Skirball Fire.
Smoke from fires could be seen from the International Space Station. Astronaut Randy Bresnik wrote in a tweet: "Tonight I've been asked if we can see the SoCal fires from space, yes, unfortunately, we can, Santa Ana may die soon, #Californiawildfire." In another publication he thanked the thousands of people who fight the fires.
More than 100 large square miles
The Thomas fire spanned approximately 101 square miles in Ventura County, located just north and west of Los Angeles.
The authorities said that they could not give a precise amount of destroyed houses, because the flames in the burnt-out neighborhoods were still too intense to be examined. But they had estimated around 150 buildings early Tuesday. The number will increase once the focus goes from firefighting and rescue to more damage assessment, firefighters said.
On Wednesday, the fire grew significantly on the north side of the fire.
The embers in the air irritated the eyes of firefighters, said Rich Macklin, a spokesman for Ventura County firefighters.
California Governor Jerry Brown declared an emergency for Ventura County, freeing state resources such as the National Guard to support the response efforts.
Flaming rogers thrown in the air
At his Solimar Beach home in Ventura, Phil Lee was tired and nervous.
He had a restless night on Tuesday and Wednesday after the fire gave a surprising sight near his house facing the sea.
There was a thick brush nearby that had survived a 2015 wildfire.
But when the flames crashed into him on Tuesday night it was like a "gas bomb" that exploded, he said.
Tumbleweeds of 5 or 6 feet in diameter shot hundreds of feet in the air, he said, spreading fire to new places, even through Highway 101.
"It's humiliating when you see Mother Nature being so aggressive, "Lee said.
Lee said he had a kayak on his deck, just in case they needed to escape by water.
I will not be a victim, says the man standing in the rubble
Sergio Barbosa has suffered waves of emotions. On Tuesday he tried to return to the house where he had lived most of his life, but the police did not let him into the neighborhood.
Then he and a friend walked and found a neighbor with a golf cart that Barbosa received.
He had woken up that morning, one day after the evacuation, with a bad feeling. As they approached his address, he worried, "Please, do not let it be my house."
It was, and it was gone.
The home that his mother had helped build, where years of memories were made and stored, there were white debris and melted shells in what used to be a kitchen.
I was angry and sad. He was also relieved. He had his answer.
And "… at the end of the day I'm alive, my roommates are alive," he said.
He says he will not let the fire make him a victim, even if all he has left are some clothes and some personal effects. And he will rebuild – "twice as nice" – in the neighborhood he loves.
"I'm not going to let an incident scare me," he said.
The winds that caused the fire were part of the "strongest and longest" Santa Ana event of the season. Santa Anas are strong, dry winds that high pressure systems push from east to west, from the mountains and desert areas to the Los Angeles area.